April 6, 2016

Some movement on Kevin Stallings coaching staff. The only sure things were that Stallings was bringing his longtime assistant Tom Richardson with him. And that none of the old Pitt assistants would be on the staff. There is now some debate on the nature of what Brandin Knight was offered to be an assistant.

Stallings said discussions with longtime Panthers assistant and former player Brandin Knight included a “sizeable pay raise” and touched on changing his title to associate head coach, but Knight declined to pursue other options.

Prior to Stallings statement, it was assumed that Richardson was going to be associate head coach (top assistant) as he was at Vandy.

Hard to say what is true or not with this stuff. Brandin Knight won’t be saying a word. I wouldn’t be surprised with the pay raise portion, though. Seems clear that Knight decided that what was best for his career was to move on to another place. Probably the right call for Knight.

As for assistants, Stallings made clear that the ability to recruit was vital (duh).

He said the other two assistants will have strong recruiting backgrounds.

“My desire with the other two positions will be guys that absolutely have a primary recruiting focus,” Stallings said Wednesday in his office. “(Athletic director) Scott Barnes said he wanted one. I want two more kick-butt recruiters.”

Well, one of those assistant spots has been filled. Jeremy Ballard, an assistant at Illinois State, was hired. Chris Dokish had this earlier and was confirmed later in the day.

Ballard was on staff at VCU for three years and lost out to Will Wade in succeeding Shaka Smart. He left VCU to go to Illinois State. Prior to VCU he was an assistant for five years with Tulsa. Working with Danny Manning and getting the Golden Hurricanes to the NCAA Tournament and making Tulsa relevant enough to get into the American Athletic Conference. Ballard is from Atlanta, but attended Colgate. He has 12 years experience as an assistant in D-1 basketball. He is only 34, though.

If you are looking for the tie with Kevin Stallings, the head coach of ISU is Dan Muller. Muller was an assistant for Stallings at Vandy. Stallings also was head coach at ISU prior to going to Vandy.

Another addition is Dan Cage, a former Vanderbilt player and who has been Stallings’ Director of Basketball Operations for the past six years. Cage is not going to be an assistant, but is expected to take a similar role at Pitt.

I have said — even before Stallings’ — hire that there weren’t likely to be any transfers. Seemed to be confirmed last week, as the recruiting class also stayed intact. Today Stallings confirmed.

He said he received assurances from every player on the roster, including leading scorers Michael Young and Jamel Artis, that no one is planning to transfer.

“I (can) honestly look at the nine guys we have here on scholarship and could see each and every one of them being in the rotation and being effective,” Stallings said.

Stallings said the door is open for incoming recruits Justice Kithcart, Crisshawn Clark and Corey Manigault to play right away next year.

“If a freshman comes in, and he’s the best guy to help us win, he’ll be the guy,” Stallings said.

As for that final available scholarship?

Stallings said he would consider filling Pitt’s final scholarship for next year with a high school player or a transfer and didn’t rule out that player being a graduate transfer.

And yes, he wants it to be a big man.

Stallings said that scholarship will go to a big man, the most glaring hole he sees on the roster.

Well, yeah. At this point, a transfer or a high school big man would be for the future, not next year. At this point any big man out of high school is a big time project who will need time. A regular transfer has to sit a year.

Given Pitt will already have four scholarships for 2017 available, I wouldn’t expect Stallings to go with a graduate transfer — unless it was a really good player — and have to try and bring in a five-man class.

I like that Ballard is from Atlanta and coached at VCU …. should have ACC footprint connections.

My darkhorse for 3rd assistant is Jason Richards who has been director of operations for past 5 years at Pitt. His dad is Tom Richards, Pitt PG for that great 73-4 team … and he shared the backcourt with Steph Curry at Davidson in their Elite 8 run 8 years ago or so.

Wouldn’t bet that he gets hired but wouldn’t mind it either

Comment by wbb 04.06.16 @ 6:19 pm

Plus two for Stallings keeping the three commits and going on the hunt for a center.

Minus one thousand because he will never recover from upitt calling him Herman Munster. Not even six NCAA titles in a row could soothe that burn.

Comment by Deepelemblues 04.06.16 @ 7:29 pm

Deep – Stallings isn’t Herman Munster. That is reserved for our Mormon AD with the largest head literally.

Stallings names mentioned were Cesar, Pappy, Met Life, Bon-Ton Manager Trainee and Jiffy Lube Greeter. All are areas he would be better than a basketball coach.

Comment by Upittbaseball 04.06.16 @ 7:53 pm

At this point in the game, I want Kevin Stallings and his staff to succeed. The Panthers have a lot of offensive skills with their returning players that previous teams haven’t had. Hopefully opening things up a little will be good for all involved.

Comment by Justinian 04.06.16 @ 8:03 pm

Our biggest asset is JR’s graduation. No need to mention his
tino stats. He created zero offense and was only guarded 50% of the time because he was no threat to score. Wish the kid the best in his life.

Comment by Upittbaseball 04.06.16 @ 8:15 pm

I think we will see a much more exciting brand of Bball and that we have offensive talent that has been stifled by Jamie’s style of play.

The obvious key is whether Wilson and/or Kithcart can play above the line as point guards.

How it translates to wins and losses is anyone’s guess, but it should be great fun to watch.

Comment by gc 04.06.16 @ 9:00 pm

I told this to Upitt but I just Juan to thank the Pirates starting pitcher for an awesome performance tonight. I’ll see myself out.

Comment by tedsptman 04.06.16 @ 9:19 pm

I been kinda mulling over the notion that we shouldn’t be calling this hire a bust until maybe…you know…Stallings get to actually recruit a little and coach a few games first….maybe even a whole season.

But that’s just me….

Comment by Jackagain 04.06.16 @ 9:48 pm

I am so confused to why there havnt been any transfers or decommits, is this normal?, why is everyone staying? I’ve never seen a coaching change and no players leave

Comment by Keith 04.06.16 @ 10:48 pm

What does it all mean??

Comment by Keith 04.06.16 @ 10:49 pm


Comment by Keith 04.06.16 @ 10:50 pm

At least Stallings hired an amazing up and comer from the power house Illinoise State. After Shaka passed him up and so did VCU we take him. Second hand scraps across the board is good enough for Pitt. The Pete will be an empty mess and I can’t wait to see Barnes Billboards with this group of 3rd rate coaches. The program is officially over until 2020. Thanks Herman and your coach the Powerhouse Vandy wanted to fire. F’ing embarrassing.

Comment by Upittbaseball 04.06.16 @ 11:17 pm

Amen Jackagain. Nice to hear some sanity as opposed to what Upittbaseball is spewing.

Comment by New York Panther 04.07.16 @ 2:38 am

Stallings first take that Wilson could be his point guard makes me a little squeamish. Wilson may turn to be a great player, but i doubt very much it will be as the PG. Perhaps Stallings was trying to stroke Wilson’s ego, least he bolt out the door for another opportunity elsewhere.

Comment by jrnpitt 04.07.16 @ 3:38 am

If Stallings can find a decent center, that would be a great start to his tenure, something JD hasn’t done in a while!

Comment by PittPT 04.07.16 @ 5:20 am

Just a theory …. the reason that no players are leaving may be because of the promise to play a more uptempo style. When Stallings said that he doesn’t want his players to have one eye on the bench every time they missed a shot … that may have really resonated with the players.

Comment by wbb 04.07.16 @ 5:50 am

1. keep players here … check
2. hire good assistants … check (see tweet below)
3. recruit quality big man
4. recruit quality players for 2017 class

Jeff GoodmanVerified account
Love the hire by new Pitt coach Kevin Stallings of Jeremy Ballard. Was with Shaka at VCU, last year at Illinois State.

Comment by wbb 04.07.16 @ 5:58 am

Upitt. Only you could find a way to bust on an assistant hire. 90 percent of college basketball assistants will never be head coaches. The guy has east coast ties, especially the Virginia area.

Where are the cries for gangsta Barry R? LOL

Comment by notrocketscience 04.07.16 @ 6:00 am

Time to sit back and relax folks. No need for a rush to judgement. Let’s see how he coaches, how he recruits.

Comment by Joe Bro 04.07.16 @ 6:58 am

So, when do we see the new unis? Do we wait until the season opens in September—or are they going to be unveiled sooner?

And, I say we needed a change as BB coach. I like what I have read about Stallings so far. Players are staying. Recruits are still coming. And, he wants to hire assistants who will be focused on recruiting.


Comment by pmdH2P 04.07.16 @ 7:41 am

I have seen just enough of Wilson to say he could be a great point guard if he can improve his ball handling. He sees the court well, can drive to the hoop, has a good looking shot, and is very fast. Too bad Jamie wasted his first year.

Comment by gc 04.07.16 @ 7:42 am

Young assistants, that helped mid level programs win, with ties to Shaka Smart, the biggest “new” guy out there a couple years ago.

So, let me get this straight.

Young assistants that go elsewhere are dubbed the new, hot up and comers that Pitt can’t get and would never come to Pitt.

Young assistants that come to Pitt are dubbed also-rans that no one else wanted or got passed up for jobs by lesser schools.

I almost get the feeling, no matter who Pitt hired, some are going to bitch, just to hear themselves bitch.

That couldn’t be, could it?

Comment by Dan 04.07.16 @ 7:58 am

@pmdH2P, supposed to be a presser or unvieling, whatever you’d like to call it on the uni’s sometime in May.

Comment by Dan 04.07.16 @ 7:59 am

unveiling, sorry I’m a stickler. One of those words that does not go along with the old i before e except after c rule.

Comment by Dan 04.07.16 @ 8:04 am

Ballard hire actually sounds like a good get. Shaka did not ‘leave him behind’, that’s not the story. Nice pickup there. Still needs one other good coach, hopefully more than a recruiter, but someone who is a good teacher of defense as well, to fill the void.

And here’s a thought regarding the ‘no persons leaving’ situation: Maybe given the frustrations that were building within the program, players actually felt like the change may be good for the team on a couple of different levels? Remember, everything is relative…

And with regard to Wilson, he obviously did not look great in limited time, but in all fairness he wasn’t given a fair chance, and you could argue pretty easily that the way he was utilized was really poor and hampered his development. I’m not saying I think he’ll live up to his 4 star rating, he certainly has a lot to prove, but hopefully he’ll at least be given a chance this time around…

Comment by 1618mt 04.07.16 @ 8:06 am

1618 – So why didn’t Shaka take him if he was so good? Why didn’t VCU hire him if he was so good? Why did he have to go to Illinois State if he was so good? You are telling me no one else saw value in the guy? More yes men for pappy. Show me someone desirable who has options. Not someone coaching at the worst programs in US that chooses Pitt. I also lump Vandy in there for Stallings.

Comment by Upittbaseball 04.07.16 @ 8:21 am

“This was a real coup for Pitt, a steal for them, an absolute no-brainer hire. I’ve known Kevin for 30 years, Pitt basketball is in great hands. He will do a fantastic job. This isn’t a young guy learning on the job, he will know exactly what to do from day one.”
…Ben Howland, commenting on the new hire

Comment by mc 04.07.16 @ 8:21 am

Dan – Feel free to answer that as well. If he is so good why did no one want him? passed over twice and we hire him. More junk for the junk yard Herman is assembling for Hoops. When we win 17 games next year and 14 the year after send me a ham.

Comment by Upittbaseball 04.07.16 @ 8:23 am

@gc Agree 100%. JD should have let Wilson “catch up” during the non-con. It probably would have paid off during the ACC.

I can only assume that JD was putting far too much emphasis on blending in the grad transfers, particularly Smith, early in the year. Robinson, Young and Artis had played significant minutes together for two years. Smith was brought in to shoot 3s. Maia rebound. Ododa defend. Don’t see much need to blend.

IMO JD’s failure to allow Luther and Wilson to gain game experience in the non-con was his strategic failure for the year.

Comment by Barvo 04.07.16 @ 8:23 am

Upitt – Read the articles about him, you’re not going to believe me anyway.

Barvo – Exactly. And I’m not saying Wilson was singled out, that’s how all young players were treated. Howland actually did the same thing (as Jamie).

Comment by 1618mt 04.07.16 @ 8:29 am

@Upitt, I would bet that Shaka Smart, Tom Crean, Coach K, Roy Williams and others were all passed over for a job or two in their careers.

Name me a basketball coach, especially when they were young and coming up who didn’t get passed over??

At some point, Coach K, was a 28 year old assistant coach somewhere, when a job came open and no one knew who we was or what he was about.

They passed him over, and he had to stay to be an assistant somewhere for 5 more years.

Chuck Noll got passed over for jobs, Vince Lombardi got passed over for jobs when they were young.

Scotty Bowman, Phil Jackson, I bet they all got passed over for jobs early in their careers.

Sorry, getting passed over a couple jobs, or a coach didn’t take him with him ain’t cuttin’ it. Happens all the time, doesn’t mean jack.

Comment by Dan 04.07.16 @ 9:20 am

Dan – He has 12 years experience. By 32 you should be onto major things if worth your salt. Just my opinion.

Comment by Upittbaseball 04.07.16 @ 9:50 am

Wright State passed on Dixon the year before he became Pitt coach.

Comment by wbb 04.07.16 @ 10:17 am

Its fascinating to me the way so many of us act. Yinzer nation in general & Pitt fans specifically rail against coaches regardless. JD grew tired of it. He took the loss to WI hard (he should’ve). He made mistakes (most notably never recovering from losing Slice (2x’s) & Orlando – he lost his edge in the living room for sure. And while we are all entitled to our opinions about style of play, I for one still value a Clean Program, above avg graduation rate & emphasis on defense (and Im an uptempo fan & don’t like coaches with a quick hook so I get those criticisms). Bottom line was JD couldn’t take anymore from thankless (& mostly neophyte) yinzer/pitt nation so he took a job that is easily 2 steps below what HE BUILT at our beloved Pitt… So essentially the best coach in our history sensed he wore out his welcome & bolted for a bottom dweller. What was the collateral damage? ADSB couldn’t convince a “sexy” up & comer that they could build their career at Pitt. 2 reasons – (1) JD is soooooo well regarded nationally for the job he did building a program (with a modest jump start from his mentor – who parlayed it into a promotion to a “Blue Blood”) in the big east that a new hire feared they would be unable to plus it (2) the rest of the country is hip to how we treat our coaches (ex: our weekly “fire tomlin” rants). Its not a good look. ADSB botched (to be kind) his roll out of HCKS – no doubt. so now it is up to us. is your glass half full or half empty? frankly we have come a long way over the last 2 decades, it will be hard to not take a step back. the ACC is brutal. But I pray we don’t slide all the way back to the days of struggling to beat the Bonnies at the field house where the most entertaining thing was Tiger Paul & I am cautiously optimistic we won’t. But if you find yourself having called for JD’s head & bitching about not being able to find someone “better” than HCKS then perhaps ADSB had a point (that was ruined by his bad delivery & word choice)? H2P

Comment by ptbreezeb 04.07.16 @ 10:32 am

So Pitt should only hire head coaches as assistants?

Who should they hire?

Comment by notrocketscience 04.07.16 @ 11:03 am

ptbreezeb – good, thoughtful comments. I am one that has always agreed that Dixon did a good job and did a lot of things right; he was a fantastic representative of the university and well respected by peers to boot. Unlike a few others (but like most), I am going to miss him. But none of that changes my opinion that it was also time to move on, for him and for Pitt. And the slide you feared had already occurred under Jamie’s watch due to the lack of recruiting prowess, so the question now is whether or not we can restore what we once had. It may be that KS & crew continue our slide, maintain our current level, or help us gain some positive momentum for a change, that remains to be seen, but I’d rather take my chances trying a new direction at this point. Obviously, KS is not going to be here forever, so I hope within his staff he hires at least one young coach that may have a future here (wishful thinking, I know, but possible if well thought out).

Comment by 1618mt 04.07.16 @ 11:07 am

thanks 1618mt i agree with you 100%. i hate the way ADSB handled this publicly. I wish he would’ve taken a shot at the fan base by saying something to the effect of: “regardless of what some Pitt fans think JD is held in the highest regard among his peers nationally & he has left HUGE shoes to fill” followed by “look, i saw some of the lists of potential candidates published in the media & i have to tell you all that they looked nothing like the list we were working from- which is why I felt it critical to engage a well regarded search firm so that I could report to my boss that we left no stones unturned in as quick a manner possible”. I believe this would have helped him tremendously from a PR standpoint & I also believe that it is pretty close to the way things played out (though we will never know) H2P

Comment by ptbreezeb 04.07.16 @ 11:27 am

I’m not surprised no one is transferring. Young, Artis, Jeter, & Jones are going to be seniors & don’t want to sit a year. Nix & Milligan just redshirted, so they don’t want to sit 2 years in a row. Luther & Johnson are local guys who grew up rooting for Pitt. Wilson can be a 3 year starter & would have to battle to start no matter where he went, but he won’t have to sit a year if he stays.

Comment by Nick 04.07.16 @ 11:43 am

Ptbreeze – he wanted Captain Stallings and had it done before Dixon made his leaving public. He fabricated the search to make fans think he was competetent. He and his Recruiter Buddy had this plan from the first day.

Comment by Upittbaseball 04.07.16 @ 11:45 am

Upittbaseball – I appreciate that. And I am a huge fan of your cynicism (known as an acute cynic myself). Im sure that could have been a possibility but not sure its a fact. You may not be the only one with friends in high places… I mean its pretty well accepted the Howland was the conduit, right? Either way its water under the bridge now & one thing I am sure we can all agree on is that ADSB’s confidence index took its first significant hit (& none of us would be surprised if its a death blow). And if in fact he was locked in on HCKS he could’ve benefited from using a talk track similar to what I suggested above. Bottom line is ADSB was right – going back to the “Script” was a layup. Replacing JD… not so much H2P

Comment by ptbreezeb 04.07.16 @ 12:15 pm

Ptbreeze – I agree buddy. Script was a easy one for him and anti Pederson.

Comment by Upittbaseball 04.07.16 @ 12:20 pm

PG Craig Meyer says a deal in the works that Pitt and PSU will play in non-con next year. I wouldn’t doubt that a Pitt-WVU match-up will also be arranged. But of course, that would make too much sense to occur I guess

Comment by wbb 04.07.16 @ 1:08 pm

This crowd must not deal w/ ego-maniacs like CEO’s and the like. Barnes’ ego was not harmed in the filming of the press conference. No need for sympathy cards to be sent and no wake has been scheduled at this time.

Comment by JohnRamella 04.07.16 @ 1:13 pm

The fact that we switched coaches and didn’t lose any players or commits is as much a testimony to our overall lack of talent as it is to any great job being done by the new staff. If we had anyone that was real desirable there would have been a larger effort to pry them away. The retention was also aided by the fact that our best returnees are now seniors.

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.07.16 @ 5:28 pm

i have ties to pitt administration and i saw the new home uni’s. They will be gold with pittsburgh splashed across the front Not Pitt Here we go again!!!!!!! But nice blue trim

Comment by Boo Boo #1 04.07.16 @ 5:44 pm

Pitt needs a damn good 7’0 Center I think Stallings can do it. He had 4 guys 7’0 at Vandy. Actually one of them was 6’10

Comment by Boo Boo #1 04.07.16 @ 7:27 pm

Jamie at TCU just hired a top rate recruiter who was at LSU and recruited player of the year Simmons

Comment by Boo Boo #1 04.07.16 @ 7:31 pm

Is TCU giving Jamie more $$$$ to spend on helpers???

Comment by Boo Boo #1 04.07.16 @ 7:32 pm

Who cares what Dixon does, he didn’t do squat in the last 5 years here. I don’t see where following him here applies.

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.07.16 @ 7:42 pm

I find it interesting that they offered Brandon Knight more money. What did Knight do that made him more valuable? I loved the guy as a player but even as a close observer have absolutely no idea if he can coach. His coaching results aren’t very impressive so maybe we are better off rid of him. If I were a new coach starting fresh I wouldn’t want the old guys assistant hanging around. I certainly wouldn’t want the program paying extra for it.

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.08.16 @ 9:11 am

I wanted an up and coming younger coach, who could pass the fire in his belly to win to his players. We can extrapolate from KS past and reasonably speculate on his future; at this point in his career is it reasonable to think he’ll climb to new personal heights or be content to match his previous achievements which doesn’t include a NC sniff? Like many I wanted a young coach with an unwritten, limitless future. Like Bryce Drew, now at Vandy.

Comment by Old School Panther 04.11.16 @ 5:24 am

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